BALTIMORE - After months of controversy, Baltimore City's new curfew law goes into effect in just over one week.
Dozens of people brought their concerns to the mayor and the police commissioner Tuesday night, in a forum at the University of Baltimore.
- Baltimore City Council passes stricter curfew bill
- Shooting underscores need for new curfew in Baltimore, residents say
- Baltimore community lobbies against proposed curfew
Many of them believe the new curfew law unfairly targets young people and their parents. One man said: “When you come at the people of youth you're coming at their parents . They're parents are busting their butts.”
It's an argument that doesn't sit well with Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“You cannot cast off your responsibly because it’s hard,” she said to the man. “If you're not there to watch your child in the middle of the night than somebody needs to.”
Others had concerns with how the law will be enforced. Tess Hill-Aston, the president of the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, said the officers who enforce the curfew law should be different from those who investigate serious crimes. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he expects all officers will use the curfew have more positive interactions with young people.
The new curfew law goes into effect on August 8. For children under age 14, the nighttime curfew will be 9 p.m. all year.
For children ages 14-16 during the school year the curfew will be 10 p.m. on school nights. They will be able to stay out until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during the school year, and every night during the summer.
“In the same way people have seen us enforce it before people will see us enforce it again,” the mayor said.
If a child is found alone after those hours, they'll be taken to what city officials are now calling "connection centers" -- with, the mayor says, a focus on finding a responsible adult for them to be released with.
“We can't say it's OK for police and responsible adults not to care when you see a vulnerable child. We need to stand in that gap and get that kid connected and that family connected with resources that's what this curfew is about that's what I'm about,” she said.
And even if a child is found out after those hours, there are exceptions to the curfew rule:
- With a parent or guardian
- Exercising 1st Amendment rights
- In a motor vehicle involved in interstate travel
- Traveling to or from work
- Involved in an emergency
- On a sidewalk in front of your home or the home of a neighbor who has not complained to police
- Attending or on the way to or from a school, religious or other group event